Blurb Revolution

A random seascape for no apparent reason, but that sky is kinda Blurb blue.

Okay, I’m a total Blurb homer, and I work for the company, but I still felt I needed to write this post.

Last week was an especially interesting time in the history of the company, with the arrival of two, three or perhaps even a few more very important things.

First, Pro Line books are now here. Photographers polled over the past few years were asked “What do you want?” There were many responses…as you can imagine. But, what came through loud and clear, “We want more paper choices, end sheet choices and more cover options.” So, in short, they are here. But Dan is there more you ask? Yes, there is. These new additions are not just more options, not in my opinion. They are options that speak directly to photographers who are looking at Blurb as a vehicle for the future. Let me explain.

Four years ago, when I first started using Blurb, and many other POD book makers, I was using these books for a few things, mostly portfolios and promo books. Over the years, as the technology got better, and my understanding of books got better, I began to realize I was selling myself short as well as selling my books short. Soon I began selling books to both clients, shoot specific, but also began selling my books to collectors or people who just wanted to own my work. At the time I did not fully understand the power of the book, nor did I understand how to position a book. Once I saw the look in my client’s eyes when that bright, shiny book was placed before them, the wheels began to turn in my mind.

It’s been said that photography is a story best told in book form. I think we have Gerry Badger to thank for that notion, and I am one hundred percent in agreement with him. The book is a powerful thing that commands a certain respect, both with photographers, but more importantly with the general public.

In the past few years, with the economic downtown, the publishing industry has been impacted. With having said that, the traditional publishing world is still making signature books, and looks to be ready to do so well into the future. For this I’m glad. Behind me, as I write this, is my photo-book library, which is overflowing with books(Including Blurb books!). There are more on the way. But, one of the side effects of the downturn is that photographers who might have been published before are simply not being afforded that opportunity today. That is where Blurb comes into play.

What I’ve seen happening over the past few years is the reality that books are being defined by different ideals. With the advent of companies like Blurb, the book has taken on a different face, one which has allowed for a more wide ranging scale of what is being published. Sure, many of these books are, let’s face it, not good, including many of mine, but many of them are exceptional. New talent, new faces and new opportunities have been merged in this exciting new time. Case in point, Photoeye Books selling my “On Approach” book.

Pro Line takes this one step further. Recently, at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, Blurb was able to offer a sneak peak to festival attendees. I spent four days in a room at a hotel, a room filled with these books, and I have to say, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Now, I know what you are thinking, cause you are a photographer, and I’m a photographer. You are thinking, “Who cares what anyone else says, I gotta see it myself.” I know. I always think the same thing. But, I can’t sum it up any better than a photographer who sat with me and viewed these new books and new materials. He simply said, “These are a good as anything being published today.”
I know, you still want to see them. But let me ask you this? Ever thought of doing an edition? Small run? Tip in print? Feel like maybe you have more options now?

Now, Pro Line, at least to me, was somewhat expected in terms of the future of Blurb. I know, I’m terribly jaded and demanding, but again, did I mention I was a photographer? So, my standard mission statement is “I want everything. I want it now. I want it for free.” So these new books I saw coming.

What I didn’t seem coming was BLURB MOBILE This application is potentially a real game-changer, at least this is how I see it. In essence, BLURB MOBILE is a storytelling tool. Just for a second, imagine you are me. Imagine you love film. Imagine you love working on obscure projects that take unrealistic amounts of time and potentially have very little market, but yet you can’t think about life without these projects being an essential part. imagine that when you are shooting in the field, and blogging, you get constant requests from people who ask, “Where is the new work?” “When are you gonna post your latest shoot.” Imagine that you don’t want to do this because you realize the modern attention span is so short that if you post the work as you go, by the time the story is complete, or the book, the average follower will respond with, “Yep, I’ve already seen that.” And, imagine that you are old school in your thinking that good work needs to marinate and needs time to be lived with BEFORE it is released on the unsuspecting world. But imagine now having a secret weapon that will bridge this gap.

I now have a tool that allows me to have anyone who is interested FOLLOW me as I go. Anyone who is interested in my project can see AND hear what is happening in the field, without me “showing my hand” so to speak when it comes to the final images. Imagine being very happy. Imagine creating an audience for your final project, as you go along, so that when your project is done you have an audience of people who have NOT seen every image, and can relive, relearn and experience the project the way it was intended to be experienced. Imagine this sounding pretty good.

Well, now you have another option.

Oh ya, did I mention the Blurb plug-in for Lightroom? That’s kinda new too. Just to hurl something else at you.

I know what you are thinking. “I want more.” I get it. Did I mention I’m a photographer?

I’m not sure what the future holds, and let’s be real. NONE of these things substitute for time and access in the field. These new items are like arrows in your photographic quiver.

Any questions about these things, just let me know.

25 responses to “Blurb Revolution”

  1. What about a Blurb plug-in for Aperture?

  2. Michael says:

    I enjoyed your talk through the pro-line range. Any chance you could tell us what the B&W you had book was, I’d like a closer look?

    • Smogranch says:

      Michael,

      I’m going to have to check. I’d not seen that book until they put it in my hand. Sorry. I wanted to have a completely fresh look at the paper.

  3. Pedro Lemos says:

    Yeah! An aperture plug in would be a great idea. I use Blurb, i use aperture if it works whitout printing to pdf and so on would be helpfull.
    Another thing: printing quality.
    I’m no pro, just shooting for fun, but i like to give Blurb books to family and friends with mu shot’s.
    I can’t say i’m not happy with print quality, but it is very far away from Photoshop books avaiable at bookstores.
    Can you tell

    • Smogranch says:

      Pedro,

      What do you mean by “photoshop book.” As for printing, as long as you calibrate, your books will look fantastic. I’ve made 120 books so far, about 110 of those have been for clients, so if the printing wasn’t great it wouldn’t work. On the Blurb site, under “Help” there is a color management center that will walk you through color in both Booksmart and PDF to book.

    • Pedro Lemos says:

      Sorry, Daniel.
      I didn’t mean “photoshop book”. Stupid iPad auto-correction.
      I intend to write “photo book” from a bookstore.
      I work with an 27 Imac, i think the colors are fine.
      But i will take a look to the help section 🙂
      Thanks.

    • Smogranch says:

      What are you calibrating with?

  4. Pedro Lemos says:

    (sorry, some times iPad makes what he want’s and not what i want)
    So, i was asking if the new Pro lines have a quality upgrade from the regular books?
    Are they similar to a good photo printing?
    Regards from Portugal.

    • Smogranch says:

      Pedro,

      New books are printed on the same machines, but paper is much heavier than previous papers. Endsheets are new as are the linen covers. The key to printing, to color, is to calibrate, download the profile if you wish, and have an understanding of colorspace and what you can get away with. I see a lot of folks who are working on uncalibrated laptops, with the brightness turned all the way up, and who are saturating their images beyond belief. None of these things lend themselves to great printing.

    • Pedro Lemos says:

      Tanks, Daniel.
      My issue isn’t with color.
      I think the printed images are flat, just don’t pop, if you know what i mean.
      On computer or with photo paper (from my local photo store), i have a detailed image, rich colors, with Blurb books everything goes flat.
      I don’t know if i’m allowed to compare, but the books from Asuka are similar with a photo printing.
      Of course, the price is different so i use Blurb for the common stuff and Asuka only for a special occasion.
      But, I would like to use Blurb all the time 🙂
      Cheers.

      (of course i will give a try to the new Pro Line and see if i’m happy with it)

    • Smogranch says:

      Ah okay, got it.
      What you have to remember is your monitor and photo-paper are very different viewing realities than printing a book. Your book can print flat for a variety of reasons, but you have to calibrate your iMac. If you don’t than you will never know what your book will look like. Also, a basic understanding of color space is essential. Your “flat” book could come from thinking you can reproduce what you see on your monitor, which you really can’t, at least in terms of high saturation. I would watch the tutorials on the site. You should be able to get great color without any issues.

  5. I second the moreion of Aperture plugin. I tryed using the custom book sizes in Aperture to create Blurb sizes, but the export into PDF is giving me troubles and not passing the flight test. I would LOVE an Aperture plug in, I would make many, many more books… 🙂

    • Smogranch says:

      OKay, I’ll pass that along. I’m going to explore InDesign and start to use that to make the majority of my books, magazine, etc. I have Aperture but don’t have a great understanding of it.

  6. Eric Jeschke says:

    Just watched your video on the new papers. That’s exactly the kind of info I was looking for. It does indeed sound exciting. Hope we are still talking reasonable pricing…

  7. Eric Jeschke says:

    I don’t get the excitement over Blurb mobile though–maybe I’m old school, but I don’t like working creative stuff on such a tiny screen. Gimme a laptop any day…

    • Smogranch says:

      Ah, I think you might want to look at it in a different light. The mobile app is simply about quick, short and easy. The app is about sharing and building an audience. I wouldn’t put stock into making art with it, but I would use it to build an audience for whatever project you are working on. There are many uses for it, and I see it as being a very powerful tool depending on your needs.

  8. Daniel,

    I have a “test” Blurb book on the new “Proline uncoated” paper, and was convinced they had used the “pearl” paper in error — it seems quite like a textured, lustre-finish RC photo-paper to me, with quite a sheen, whereas I was expecting more the feel of a good-quality book paper (like the “premium matte” paper, only more so, if you know what I mean). As you’ve been closely involved with the new developments, I’d be very interested in your take on the new paper. Thanks.

    Please don’t tell me *you* think they’ve used the “pearl” paper by mistake, too — I can’t have that conversation again…

    Mike

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      The uncoated paper does not feel or look like it has a sheen to me. It’s like uncoated inkjet paper but with very little tooth. The Pearl paper, to me, looks and feels like a heavier version of something like Lustre photo inkjet paper.
      The best thing to do with new paper and is to do a default size book, drag in a RANGE of work, color, black and white, etc, and then get a book made on BOTH papers so that you can have a sample book of paper to see how they look with all the different kinds of images you do.
      If I was home long enough to do this…I’d be doing it right now. I thought I would like one of these papers over the other, but after looking and feeling….not sure anymore.

    • Daniel,

      That’s exactly what I did .. Ordered two copies of my “test” book, one on each paper. They both arrived on the *same* paper, which I took to be (and still do, given your description) the “pearl” version.

      Blurb being Blurb (I love them) they sent me a free replacement on “uncoated” stock … which looked exactly the same! Gah…

      I just know that if I now order a copy on “pearl” paper, I will end up with 4 copies, all on the same paper… I guess, sometimes, nothing works!

      Mike

    • Smogranch says:

      Bueno, will contact you now and we can sort out what is going on. Sorry for the trouble. Maybe you are destined for “gloss?”

  9. murray lloyd says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I just received my first Blurb book and was happy with the print quality (designed in In Design). The question I have is when will Blurb offer saddle stitching (allowing books to open flat) as an option and really allow the creation of bookstore quality books?

    Murray

    • Smogranch says:

      Murray,

      I don’t have a time frame for you, and I have to say, the vast majority of “bookstore quality books” on my shelf are not layflat. Having said that…I’d love to see a Blurb offering. If and when they have it…I’ll let you know! Glad you enjoyed the book! I’ve got a backlog of books to make………just need the time.

    • Smogranch says:

      I just went to my shelf to double check my comment below and also realized how many of my “bookstore quality books” are totally falling apart. I actually don’t mind this, see it as part of the life of the book, but I could see people having issues.

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